Monday, July 12, 2010

Good Analysis in a Bizarro World

On the one hand, I want to join in highly recommending Ezra Klein's terrific piece leaning on considerable political science research to argue that the economy, and not budget deficits, drives election results.  It's really first-rate work (and see more on the topic from John Sides).

That really is bizarro world time, when it comes to budget deficits.  Not only is the thirty-year record that Republicans enact larger deficits and Democrats enact smaller deficits, but the explicit platform that most Republican candidates are running on this year involves exploding the deficit -- while Democrats, having just passed a major deficit-reduction package, are generally campaigning on platforms that are deficit-neutral or call for further cuts in the deficit.  As I've said, I have no dog in this fight -- I'm not, personally, a deficit hawk   But the truth is the truth.  The ACA is a major deficit-reduction measure.  Repealing it, as most Republicans want to do, would explode the deficit.  So would making the Bush tax cuts permanent, another plank in the GOP platform.  Most Republicans are also for higher Pentagon spending than Democrats support.  And, of course, most Republican candidates for Congress have pledged to never vote for any tax increase of any kind.  Given all that, there's no way to square the circle.  To keep their specific promises, Republicans would generate much larger budget deficits.  Just as they did when they had unified control in the 00s, and just as they did when they had effective unified control in 1981. 

Of course, that's a perfectly legitimate political platform; I'm against the Broderite bias that it's OK for supposedly neutral reporters to treat balanced budgets as automatically good and budget deficits as automatically bad.  But it is what it is; the Republicans are most certainly running on a platform of higher deficits.  And good reporters should explain that to their readers.

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